Updated: May 6, 2020
Black LGBTQ+ people have been at the forefront of artistry for decades. So, it doesn’t come as a surprise that two members of the community have taken home literature’s top prize this year.
Poet, Jericho Brown took home The Pulitzer for poetry for his collection of poems “The Tradition”. “The Tradition” questions why and how we’ve become accustomed to terror: in the bedroom, the classroom, the workplace, and the movie theater. From mass shootings to rape to the murder of unarmed people by police, Brown interrupts complacency by locating each emergency in the garden of the body, where living things grow and wither—or survive. In the urgency born of real danger, Brown’s work is at its most innovative. His invention of the duplex—a combination of the sonnet, the ghazal, and the blues—is an all-out exhibition of formal skill, and his lyrics move through elegy and memory with a breathless cadence. Jericho Brown is a poet of eros: here he wields this power as never before, touching the very heart of our cultural crisis.
Playwright, Michael R. Jackson took home The Pulitzer for Drama for his off-Broadway play, “A Strange Loop.” “A Strange Loop,” is about Usher, so named because of his day-job as an usher for The Lion King on Broadway, an overweight, gay, black writer as he tries to navigate the heteronormative white world. He remarks that he thinks he'll never be as successful as the singer who shares his name, something he has in common with the writer of this musical. He is backed by a six-person all-black ensemble who voices his inner thoughts as he begrudgingly ghostwrites a new Tyler Perry movie.
As black LGBTQ artists continue to innovate it is important for our community to wrap our arms around them when they triumph and when they stumble. These are just two of the many brilliant artists that make our community proud.